A Colombian man became one of the first known foreign citizens Monday to face charges for spreading “fake news” about Russia’s war in Ukraine.
A Moscow court ordered the arrest of Giraldo Saray Alberto Enrique who will remain in custody until June 8 ahead of a trial.
It said Enrique, 40, was charged with “publicly spreading knowingly false information about the Russian armed forces.” If found guilty, he faces a fine of up to 5 million rubles ($60,000) and as many as 15 years in jail.
Prior to Enrique, prominent Ukrainian journalist Dmitry Gordon is the only known non-Russian citizen to be charged with discrediting and spreading “fake news” about the Russian military.
Enrique’s lawyer did not disclose what exactly he was accused of sharing online, citing a gag order, according to the Kommersant business daily. His profiles on social media include several pro-Russian posts, including one that alleges Russophobia is rampant in the West and that Ukraine is a puppet of NATO.
Kommersant reported that Giraldo holds a Russian passport and investigators believed he was a flight risk because of a valid U.S. visa.
Enrique is reportedly a pastry sales entrepreneur who had worked for a travel agency selling trips to Latin America prior to his detention. He apparently has a 12-year-old daughter in Moscow from a previous marriage.
Russia made the spread of "false" information about its troops a crime punishable by up to 15 years in prison after President Vladimir Putin sent troops into Ukraine.
At least 20 Russians have been charged under the new “fake news” law, according to human rights lawyer Pavel Chikov.